If there is one word that I use to describe my son Max, it is love. Pure and simple. Love. I have loved and been loved my entire life but something happened within me while I was expecting him and then when he was placed in my arms that goes beyond description or even full understanding. All of our hopes and dreams, all of our plans, all of our expectations shattered into a million and one fine shreds on the floor when we realized that none of them would come true. Reality is often harsh and painful and raw. But, despite all of the pain and grief and sorrow the one emotion that that remained and even seemed to get stronger moment by moment day by day was the love that I held for my little boy.
In the beginning I could hardly get out of bed but I did. I didn’t want to go outside of my house, but I did, at least for a short time each day. I was comforted by friends and hurt by others. I desperately needed someone who understood, someone who got this, someone who could tell me I wasn’t going crazy and that my thoughts were not abnormal. I needed someone to walk beside me who would assure me that the light of life would return again. That I would laugh my loud obnoxious laugh somewhere again down the road. That my tears and pain were a sign of the love that I carry for Max, not a sign of weakness or other labels that so many wanted to put on it. I needed to know that in a room full of people who cared about me there was at least someone who understood me and my feelings and could give me hope. I needed to know that I was not alone.
The other thing that I needed was to do something with all of the love that I felt. I came up with multiple options and ideas. Most of them I was told that maybe I should wait until I further down the road to pursue. I know that the people who told me this were trying to protect my heart. I felt like I was going to explode because I wanted to share this love with Max but I couldn’t do it in the only way that I could imagine. This was not the life I had dreamed of, this is not the life I would have chosen.
A Memory Grows exists because around Max’s 2nd Birthday I felt something in me come alive and I literally turned some sort of corner on my journey. A Memory Grows is designed to be that safe place where you can be you. A place where you can laugh and then the next second cry. Where no one judges or questions what you have to say but simply joins you where you are, sits beside you and walks with you. We hold our children as sacred no matter how long we had them, and whatever memories we have of them are the most precious of gifts. The bond between parents who have had to say goodbye to their child or children is like no other. We hope you will join us at one of our retreats so we can share our stories, celebrate our children and realize that we are not alone.
Love. It never ends. Love carries on.
DeAndrea is the Founder and Executive Director of A Memory Grows. She is married to Aaron and the mother to Max, Maezey and Baby M #3 that will arrive any day.